INTRODUCTION: Hundreds of species of plants and animals, plus many natural habitats are still threatened with extinction, despite 20 years of concerted effort by environmentalists to save them.
CU Tiger in Indian forest
SVs Tigers walking through forest (3 shots)
BLACK & WHITE STILLS: Dead tigers on ground as hunters stand nearby, early 20th century in India (4 shots)
SV Display of wild cat skins and heads, including cheetah, panther and tiger (2 shots)
GVs Elephant herd in Kenya (2 shots)
GVs Carcasses and skulls of elephants lying on ground (3 shots)
GV Tusks lying on ground as men inspect them and large display of elephant skulls arranged at Tsavo Research Centre, Kenya (2 shots)
GVs Rhino in bush (2 shots)
Brazil. GV Rain forest in Amazon basin
GVs Trees being bulldozed by tractors (4 shots)
GVs Bulldozer clearing road (2 shots)
GV Heavy rain falling in forest
Norwegian coast. CU PAN dead birds covered with oil lying on beach
GV Man taking live bird from sea with net. Lifts bird out of net (2 shots)
CU Dead birds in plastic bucket
At sea: the Antarctic: GV Whales hunted by harpoon
GVs Whale in water, sounds monitored (6 shots)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: Hundreds of species of plants and animals, plus many natural habitats are still threatened with extinction, despite 20 years of concerted effort by environmentalists to save them. On May the 27th, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) marks two decades of collecting and allocating funds to various conservation projects. Since 1961, the organisation has rescued 33 types of mammals and birds from the brink of extinction -- but for each one saved, several more are added to the list of endangered species.
SYNOPSIS: Fifty years ago, more than one hundred thousand tigers existed in the wild. Today, the number is less than five thousand. And thousands have been killed, simply because the cat's richly-coloured skin fetches high prices in exotic shops.
Forty thousand tigers roamed the wilds of India in 1900. but tiger hunting became a major recreation of the British colonialists.
Today, though hunting is illegal, and reservations exist to protect tigers, displays like this can still be found in back streets of Indian cities.
The widespread poaching of elephants for their tusks continues to raise fears that they, too, could become extinct. Despite international agreements to halt the illegal ivory trade, a well-organised network manages to find a ready supply of ivory goods. Early this year (1981), tusks from more than 500 elephants reached France -- a fifteen-ton cargo worth more than a million U.S. dollars. And there was little doubt the elephants were illegally slaughtered.
A recent rhino census in Tanzania revealed there are only 50 left in the wild. The animals are killed because their horns supposedly have an aphrodisiac quality -- a theory the World Wildlife Fund brands as a fallacy.
But more than the world's fauna are threatened. Jungles on all continents are vanishing at the rate of 50 acres a minute. The destruction of huge tracts of rain forest endangers the wildlife that live there, and can permanently alter the surrounding environment.
In 1976, the World Wildlife Fund launched its rain forest campaign to conserve key areas of jungle in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Nevertheless, most countries are accused of putting economic progress before environmental concerns.
Pesticides in the air and oil-polluted sea waters have taken a great toll of the world's bird population. Early last January (1981), an estimated one hundred thousand sea birds died in oil-polluted waters off the Norwegian and Swedish coasts. Their feathers saturated with oil, they could not fly or feed, and many froze to death in the North Sea. An inquiry into which oil tanker was responsible closed without pressing charges.
The sea and all its inhabitants are also under threat. The oceans are polluted by the effluents of the industrialised world, and whales are being hunted to extinction."
The sounds of the whale have been studied by scientists, who agree that this mighty mammal has a superior intelligence. Nevertheless, whales are at the mercy of producers of lipstick, floorwax and pet food. Apparently, as always, commercial interests interfere with the ideals of conservationists.